Australian smugglers on death row in Indonesia make final plea for clemency

FACING DEATH::The two men — part of the ‘Bali Nine’ — are begging to be spared death by firing squad after Jakarta said it planned to carry out executions this year


Mon, May 06, 2013 - Page 5

Two Australian drug smugglers on death row in Indonesia have made a desperate plea for their lives, insisting they are reformed characters and deserve a second chance.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were part of the “Bali Nine,” a group of nine Australians who were caught attempting to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin into Australia from Bali in 2005.

Chan and Sukumaran were sentenced to death for their leading roles in the operation, while the rest are serving lengthy sentences, including life terms.

Both men have lost their final appeals, with their fate now in the hands of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who can grant clemency.

However, with Indonesia in February announcing it planned to put to death some convicts for murder and drugs offenses this year after not carrying out an execution for several years, concerns about their fate are growing.

Sukumaran and Chan told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper they were having nightmares involving being shot dead by a firing squad.

“That scenario, being lined up, having a thing tied over your face and seeing these people in front of you with guns. That is the image that comes to my mind,” said Sukumaran, 32.

He said execution would end their lives just when they were achieving good for others, pointing to their part in running computing, English, and art workshops for prisoners in Kerobokan Prison.

“We are sorry for what we did. We were young and stupid. I would ask, please forgive us and give us a second chance, a chance to make up for what we have done,” he said. “I want to become a better person and I want to help everybody else become a better person as well.”

Chan also said he was a changed man.

“Sincerely I am sorry for the crime that I did commit and I apologize to the Australian public for that,” he said.

Indonesia has stiff penalties for drug trafficking, including life imprisonment and death.

There is no timeframe for Yudhoyono to grant clemency and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bob Carr said Canberra has repeatedly urged the Indonesian president to spare them.

“There hasn’t been a meeting the [Australian] Prime Minister’s [Julia Gillard] had with the Indonesian president or one that I’ve had with the [Indonesian] Foreign Minister [Marty Natalegawa] where I haven’t raised the case for clemency,” he told Australia’s ABC television. “We can make representations, but we haven’t got the key to their cells in our bottom drawers.”